The decision to leave a church is not one that most make lightly. Church, for many, is home, and the other members family. By leaving your church, you aren’t just moving away from four walls and pews — you are leaving behind experiences, memories and friends. This may make you wary about following through with your instincts, which tell you it’s time to move on. But before you ignore them, know that they may be the most significant indicator of all. After all, God would not be pushing you in a new direction if He didn’t feel it was best for you. If you need additional affirmation, however, look for a few other signs.
You Do Not Respect the Leadership
Sadly, church leaders are not immune to corruption, evidenced by the increasing number of headlines involving wayward priests, greedy pastors and political interference. If your church has been touched by perversion, fraud or vice, or if the leaders are hypocritical in their teachings, it may be time to search for a new place of worship. In fact, you may owe it to yourself to do so.
The Pastor’s Family Is Out of Control
Children have a mind of their own, this is true. But there’s a difference between rebellious, hardheaded youth and youngsters who have no respect for authority or others. If the leader’s children regularly engage in eyebrow-raising behavior, it may be indicative of his or her true nature. As Paul said, a church leader should be able to skillfully manage his or her own family and ensure that children obey in a manner that doesn’t command but that is worthy of respect.
You Stopped Growing Spiritually
There are many people who will tell you that you should not choose a church because of what it can do for you, and while there is some merit behind this sentiment, the reality is that people attend church for a purpose. That purpose is to grow spiritually and to strengthen the relationship with God and fellow Christians. When services no longer fulfill that purpose, you aren’t being finicky in changing congregations — you simply want to continue to grow.
Your Church Shames People
The role of a church leader is to guide followers and encourage them to make the right decisions in all areas of their lives. When a member confesses to or demonstrates wayward behavior, the leader should take decisive and private action to address it. He or she should not address the matter on Sunday morning in front of the entire congregation. Shaming people in such a manner will do nothing to help correct the shamed person’s behavior, but rather encourage him or her to hide it better.
If your church leaders make it a habit of shaming followers during service, it is not a church you should want to be a part of. That sort of punishing, self-righteous behavior is not something Jesus would condone and is not something in which good Christians should partake.
You Dread Going
Church should not feel like a chore, and if it does, it may be a sign that you’re attending the wrong one. Though there will be days when you don’t want to drag yourself out of the house on a Sunday morning, you should, for the most part, enjoy services. However, if the feeling of dread arises every Sunday morning, it may be time to look for a new congregation. The sooner you do so, the better, as continuing to attend despite your lack of interest may cause irreparable damage to your interest in church and worship altogether.
Church should be a place you enjoy going and where you can strengthen your relationship with God. When that is no longer the case, it may be time to move on.